Maasai Mara University Vice Chancellor Prof Mary Walingo Acquitted

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Maasai Mara University Vice Chancellor Prof Mary Walingo Acquitted

Maasai Mara University Vice Chancellor Prof Mary Walingo and four other senior university officials who were charged with corruption offences amountin

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Maasai Mara University Vice Chancellor Prof Mary Walingo and four other senior university officials who were charged with corruption offences amounting to Sh 177 million have been acquitted by the High Court.

Sitting in the High Court in Nakuru, Justice Hillary Chemitei, in a verdict delivered on March 21, quashed all charges contained in the charge sheet dated August 26, 2020, against Prof Walingo and her co-accused, ruling that the criminal proceedings were defective and unconstitutional.

The accused were Prof Walingo, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Administration Simon Kasaine Ole Seno, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Finance and Planning John Almadi Obere and former Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic and Student Affairs Anacklet Biket Okumu who had been charged with conspiring to misappropriate Sh177,007,754 from the university between January 24, 2016, and July 19, 2019.

Also charged was the Vice Chancellor’s driver Noor Hassan Abdi.

Justice Chemitei in his judgement termed the charges sheet defective because the amount of money which was alleged to have been lost did not tally with the evidence that was produced in court.

According to the court, there was no sufficient forensic investigation done and if done, it was done in a hurry to satisfy some third parties or some ulterior motives.

“The same did not meet the threshold for charging the petitioner and her colleagues in such a serious matter based on fraud and conspiracy.

Justice Chemitei criticised the Kenya Police for drafting and signing the charges without proper scrutiny, ultimately ruling in favour of quashing the charges.

The judge faulted the Kenya police for abuse of power for making decisions to charge, drafting the charge sheet and signing them which was the mandate of the DPP.

According to the court, there were serious loopholes in the evidence provided by the prosecution which made the evidence fail to meet the threshold to sustain the charges.

“In the premises, this court is not persuaded that the petitioner and the interested parties conspired to steal the alleged funds from the Maasai Mara University. If for any chance the court was to allow the prosecution to proceed then it will be condoning an abuse of court process and subjecting the petitioner and interested parties to unnecessary litigation,” noted Justice Chemitei.

According to the prosecution, Prof Walingo authorised expenditures from the university’s bank accounts without proper documentation, amounting to millions of shillings.

The court heard she authorised the expenditure of Sh 176 million and Sh 82 million held at the university’s bank accounts at Barclays, Equity, Cooperative and National banks without supportive documents.

She faced two similar counts with Ms Biket and one each with Mr Kassaine and Mr Almadi.

Ms Biket, the finance officer, faced two separate counts of fraud.

The charge sheet indicated that she on diverse dates between December 2017 and September 2019 jointly with others not before court, with intent to defraud, made false entries in the cash book belonging to the university purporting to show that an expenditure of Sh 82 million had been genuinely incurred.

Prof Walingo faced four other separate counts of abuse of office and willful failure to comply with the law relating to the management of public funds.

They denied both charges and were freed on Sh 20 million each before the commencement of the trial.

However, Prof Walingo moved to the high court on December 22, 2022, seeking to challenge the criminal proceedings which were termed malicious and trumped up and a violation of her constitutional rights.

According to the embattled VC, the charges were fictitious and trumped up because the Maasai Mara University did not lodge any formal complaints about any loss or mismanagement of its funds.

Prof Walingo further accused the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Director of Public Prosecutions of overstepping their jurisdiction in initiating investigations into the alleged offences, contending that the Auditor General’s report for the year between 2016 to 2022 confirmed no funds misappropriation.

“The funds alleged to have been stolen and misappropriated cannot be confirmed by the office of the Auditor General as Maasai Mara University has not attached any supporting documents nor verified by an independent auditor,” stated Prof. Walingo in her affidavits.

Furthermore, the don argued that the DCI had conducted a shoddy investigation as she was arrested a year after a sensationalised expose that was aired on Citizen TV dubbed ‘Mara Heist’.

She claimed the investigations were marred with serious discrepancies, gaps and legal deficiencies which could not sustain the charges

Prof Kassaine ole Seno who was listed as an interested party argued that the Sh 177,007, 754 did not correspond with the figures in the cheques produced as evidence in court which amounted to Sh 66, 577, 512.

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